The Ultimate Toddler Girl Gift Guide For Christmas

Toddler Girl Gift Guide. Gift ideas for a toddler.Toddler stocking stuffer ideas. Toddler Christmas Gift Guide.

Toddler Girl Gift Guide. Gift ideas for a toddler.Toddler stocking stuffer ideas. Toddler Christmas Gift Guide.

I’m SO, SO excited to share this Ultimate Toddler Girl Gift Guide with you, friends! It’s loaded with the best of the best for your little gal this Christmas. In fact, I think most of these gifts would be totally awesome for a toddler boy as well. I believe girls and boys should be exposed to and allowed to play with whatever interests them!

I do spend what is probably an unusual amount of time online window shopping + creating running wish lists for Taylor. Last year I posted a Baby Girls’ First Christmas gift guide and basically did all my shopping for her from there for the next 6 months (I actually updated that post with working links for 2017 if you have a little tiny one to shop for!).

This Christmas, at 20 months old, Taylor will really be able to play with and enjoy the gifts we get for her. I can’t wait for epic family matching pajama pictures, monkey bread minis and the light in her eyes when she opens her gifts on Christmas morning.

Of course, we are NOT gifting her all the items on this list (duh), but I wanted to give you a comprehensive guide of the most adorable, developmentally appropriate gifts out there that your toddler girl (or boy!) will enjoy this Christmas and for years to come! 

One last thing, before THE gift guide….I’ll be posting all the BEST Black Friday deals for you and your baby or toddler (boy or girl!) on the Taylor-made Mama Facebook Page.You can count on me checking on all these Toddler Girl’s 1st Christmas Gift Guide items to see which go on sale too!

I’ll do all the work for you, just join me there on November 24, 2017!

Now, for the Ultimate Toddler Girl’s Christmas/Holiday Gift Guide – No matter what your little girl is into, I hope you find some toddler gift-spiration here. Let’s kick it off with Stocking Stuffer ideas!

Stocking Stuffers For A Toddler Girl:

Toddler Girl Gift Guide. Gift ideas for a toddler.Toddler stocking stuffer ideas. Toddler Christmas Gift Guide.

Some great ideas for toddler stocking stuffers (boy or girl) are:

Gifts For A Toddler Girl:

    1. A Cruzee Balance Bike + helmet –  I saw an 18-month-old at our local park riding one and just knew I had to add it to Taylor’s wish list! I love the concept of skipping tricycles and training wheels and teaching balance first. Adjustable seat and handlebar height allow the bike to grow with your little one for up to 3 years!
    2. Doll House – A mama could go crazy over all the AMAZING dollhouses from Land of Nod, but some of the pieces are just too small for my 18-month-old. The dollhouse on our wishlist is this wooden classic by Melissa and Doug!
    3. Matching Family  PJs – order these asap! The pictures and tradition are well worth the investment. We bought this Dear Deer set from  Hanna Anderson last year, and only had to update Taylor’s to a larger size for 2017!
    4. Fisher Price Little People Princess figurines – SO cute!
    5. Personalized Christmas Unicorn Ornament
    6. Fisher Price Little People A Christmas Story Nativity Set – Taylor was gifted this last year and I know she will really enjoy playing with it while learning about the meaning of Christmas this year.
    7. Tea Set with My Very First Tea Party book and Green Toys Cupcake set – I am so torn between the Green Toys tea set or this wooden one from Pottery Barn Kids that matches her playroom decor SO well…Both are simply adorable.
    8. 100 Piece Wooden Train Set 
    9. Cuddle and Kind – buy one doll and the company provides meals to 10 children in need!
    10. Dinosaur set
    11. Cute “Big Girl” undies or these amazing Unicorn Training Pants by Honest Co.- I remember “Santa” bringing me undies when I was around 8 or 9 and I was MORTIFIED at the thought! At this age, she’ll never remember and it might just be a helpful motivator toward potty training!
    12. Learning Tower Kids Kitchen Step Stool With Safety Rail – this particular model comes in 7 color options. Enjoy time “cooking” with your little helper!
    13. Table + chair set –  If you don’t already have a little table and chair set, Christmas might be a great excuse to purchase one. Especially paired with the table top easel, this gift can amount to hours of fun, creative play, and learning. We have the modern, Eames-esque table and chair set shown below, but here is another from Land of Nod that is super cute.
    14. iPad Mini + educational apps – if you’re ready to shell out the big dough, and are not anti-screen time this may be the time to buy (Black Friday deals especially – I’ll keep my eye out for my Facebook live!). An iPad is kind of a gift to you as well!
    15. Mommy, Daddy and Me shoe sets – I am a sucker for Vans (Mommy, Daddy, Toddler) or Converse AllStars (Mommy, Daddy, Toddler)
    16. Teepee + fuzzy rug – check out these ADORABLE teepees starting at $99! We have this gold metallic one in Taylor’s playroom, but check out how cute this rose gold star version is!
    17. Winter sweater – this gorgeous ruffle hem sweater comes in gray and blue if you’re not a poppy color fan like I am! Paired with some little skinny jeans and cons….stop. so cute.
    18. Wooden toy camera – for your little photog!
    19. Play kitchen + play food/accessories – We have the Teamson Kids Urban play kitchen in white, and I couldn’t be happier with it (stay tuned for an upcoming Playroom Reveal post!), but how cute is the pink version?! I am coveting these wooden appliances from Pottery Barn kids, although they are a little on the pricey side! We love all of the Melissa and Doug wooden play food and accessories.
    20. Play shopping cart – for whatever reason, this is one of Taylor’s all-time favorite things to play with!
    21. Play-Doh Play n Store Table – just watch for Doh going toward the mouth….
    22. Magnatiles – these are a toddler must-have and definitely at the top of my list!
    23. Wooden alphabet puzzle
    24. Books – I love the personalizable books by I See Me, especially the “It’s ___________’s Night Night Time” book.
    25. A Doll (I’m obsessing over the Friend Indeed collection!) + modern or classic crib + modern high chair
    26. Art Easel and art supplies(washable paint, brushes, etc.)- if you already have a table and chair set up, this Table Top Art Easel from Land of Nod would be perfect. It has everything you need from a paper roll holder, holes for paint cups, a chalkboard and a magnetic whiteboard. It even has a folding design for storage. This is in my top 5 for T! There are also several stand-alone versions as well.
    27. VTech Write and Learn Creative Center– this is one of the must-have items in our Toddler Flight Entertainment Kit!
    28. Musical toys Set
    29. Stringing beads – great for building fine motor skills!
    30. Radio Flyer wagon or Little Tykes Cozy Coupe
    31. Bowling Set
    32. Dress Up clothes and accessories – we absolutely adore the Disney inspired (and other!) Little Adventures Dress-Ups (starting at 24.99 per costume) but you can also shop second-hand stores for all kinds of accessories and costumes to fill up your little gal’s dress up box!
    33. Microphone – if you have a budding entertainer on your hands, this is a must!
    34. Hape tool bench and tools
    35. Trampoline with handlebar
    36. Golf set
    37. Melissa & Doug Wooden Puzzles
    38. Shape sorter
    39. Drums – Taylor ruined punched a hole through both bongos on this adorable Watermelon Drum set, but it was one of her favorite toys EVER so I’m adding to the top of my list for her.

     

  1. Do you give gifts for the holidays? What’s on your list? 
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Pin this list of toys that will grow with your toddler for all your holiday shopping, birthday gifts or “just because” surprises. 

Toddler Girl Gift Guide. Gift ideas for a toddler.Toddler stocking stuffer ideas. Toddler Christmas Gift Guide. Toddler birthday present ideas

A Toddler Diaper Bag Packed To Perfection

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

Thank you to Coco & Kiwi for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and any affiliate links are to products I actually use and like.

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

The last time I posted a “what’s in my diaper bag” style post, Taylor was only 7 months old. Time has absolutely flown by….Now that she is 18 months I want to share what’s in our Toddler Diaper Bag. I keep my Toddler Emergency Car Kit and a Toddler Restaurant Kit in the trunk of my car which  contain many of the things I would otherwise have to worry about grabbing on the way out the door or lugging around in my already full diaper bag (i.e. bib, utensils, first aid kit, change of clothes, etc.). If you haven’t already, and  have or will soon have a toddler, definitely check out those two posts!

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

Why I Love The Coco & Kiwi Provence Bag

I have gotten more compliments on this Coco & Kiwi Provence Diaper Bag since I started carrying/wearing it, mostly from girls at my gym who are non-moms actually! As a Coco Ambassador this season, I had the option to choose my favorite bag; it wasn’t even a question which I’d choose.  I adore the classic, chic sandstone stripes paired with the camel colored leather of the Provence Bag. Aside from how cute and stylish it looks, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite features with you – game changers I don’t know how I didn’t look for in a bag sooner:

1) detachable stroller straps,
Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.
2) the bag can be carried as a clutch, over the shoulder/messenger style, or as a BACKPACK! If you couldn’t tell by all caps, I’m definitely loving the diaper backpack option these days, running around after my toddler.
Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.
3) The ingenious zip-in wet bag. I use mine for opened snacks!
Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

You can check out this and all of the stylish Coco & Kiwi Diaper Bags and accessories here.

What’s In My Toddler Diaper Bag?

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

FOR TODDLER:

  1. 2-3 Diapers – if your toddler still wears them which, at 18 months, Taylor does.
  2. Wipes – I love Water Wipes travel packs because they are all natural, and can be used to clean little ones’ hands and faces as well!
  3. Sanitizing Wipes – the Wet Ones Sensitive Skin canister makes for easy packing as well as pulling out wipes to sanitize shopping carts, restaurant tables, etc. quickly.
  4. Snacks – did you know that when your baby becomes a toddler you then become a snack peddler? I keep a variety on hand at all times because, at this age, T is starting to really exert her independence through making her preferences known!
  5. Comb and hair ties/bows – because, #girlmom.
  6. Changing pad – a burgundy colored changing pad, which matches the lining, comes in the Coco & Kiwi Diaper bags, and it is actually long enough to accommodate a growing toddler bod!
  7. Wet bag – this is another convenient feature of the Coco & Kiwi Diaper bag. The wet bag zips in and out. I personally use it to store opened + unfinished snacks!
  8. Diaper bags + dispenser – I am obsessed with the Munchkin diaper bag dispenser. Okay, maybe not obsessed, but I do own 5!
  9. Kleenex – toddlers tend to need nose wiping every now and again, and it’s nice to have these on hand when a runny nose occurs. These travel packs are the cutest I’ve found – it’s the little things : )
  10. Mini first aid – I only carry bandaids in my diaper bag because I have a mini first aid kit in my fully loaded Toddler Emergency Car Kit (which includes this AWESOME portable potty for you potty training mamas!)
  11. Sunglasses
  12. Water bottle – sometimes I will just bring my adult sized version of this bottle and share with Taylor but, again, these days my toddler likes to have her OWN things!
  13. A small toy that she is reallllllly into – at this moment, Peppa Pig!

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

FOR MAMA:

https://cocoandkiwi.com/?aff=30

  1. LipSense Lip Gloss I literally do not leave the house without at least one of my LipSense glosses (Matte, Glossy or Bouganvillea), whether I’m wearing the lip color or not. LipSense is a kiss-proof, smudge proof, waterproof lip color that lasts up to 18 hours – talk about a busy mom MUST HAVE! The gloss is the only thing you need to reapply a couple of times throughout the day to keep your lips moisturized and your color it’s staying power.  LipSense has been a game changer for me as a new, busy mama: if nothing else, I walk out the door with tinted moisturizer and LipSense on and feel pretty + put together! I loved this stuff so much that I became a distributor myself, at first for the discount but now I have another stream of income for my family because of it! If you’re interested in learning more or placing a LipSense order – check out my Taylor-made Beauty Facebook Group (lots of sales and fun giveaways!), and my In-Stock Album and Order page.
  2. Gum
  3. Feminine products
  4. Phone
  5. Sunglasses & Eyeglasses
  6. Phone Charger – a must since becoming a mama/responsible for someone else besides myself!
  7. Wireless headphones
  8. Lifetime Athletic Gym card – I can’t insert the praise hands emoji through Word Press, or else I would. Adding this element into our toddler and mom weekday schedule has been a game-changer, sanity saver, etc.!
  9. Hand sanitizer
  10. Wallet (I linked the BEST price I’ve seen for this classic LV wallet!)
  11. Protein bar – not pictured because I literally ate it an hour before taking the pictures for this post
  12. Keys
  13. Pen

To access the printable Toddler Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist use this link or just click on the image below.  As a subscriber, you can access and download this and any of the other printables from my website by going to the Printables Library Page and entering the password I emailed to you when you subscribed (if you can’t find it, just email me at ashley@taylor-mademama.com and I’ll re-send!).

Everything you need to pack in a Toddler Diaper Bag. Toddler diaper bag essentials for a mom and her toddler.

What are your toddler diaper bag must-haves

 

 

 

 

 

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

 

Toddler Schedule + Routine For A Stay At Home Mom


Are you a stay at home mom of a toddler looking to add more structure, routine and “me time” into your weekdays?  A work at home mom who wonders how to get everything done in the day? New to the stay at home mom club and need more routine in your daily life? A mama thinking about making the transition from working mom to stay and/or work at home mom? Or perhaps you’re just curious about what Taylor and my routine looks like these days (the last updates I gave were this one when I was on maternity leave and this one when I was still nursing/pumping at work!).

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then this post is for you.

Before I jump into our toddler and stay at home mom routine, I feel compelled to write something straight from the heart :

Recently, I had a conversation with a long-time friend. She shared that, through following my journey from working to stay/work at home mom over the last year or so, a fire was lit beneath her to leave her own VERY successful career to start a business working for herself + stay at home with her two little ones.  And, guess what? She has made it happen for herself and her family! I couldn’t be more happy for my friend who had a vision of a different lifestyle and, despite any fears and hesitancies, followed her heart and went for it.

In turn, her story stoked MY fire to encourage women who may be in the same place I found myself a year ago – a heart being pulled toward being at home, yet also with the fear of uncertainty of letting go of a career and identity outside the home.

If this resonates with you right now, please know that I get it. I’ve been there, and I can tell you that I do not regret the decision for a minute. The moments I get to share with Taylor EVERY DAY now, even the hard ones, outweigh anything I could be accomplishing at work. Do I continue to think about what the future of my career may look like as I did a few months ago when I left? Sure, those thoughts still cross my mind…

BUT, here is the evolution in my thinking:

There is always someone who can do my/your day job (maybe not as well, maybe just as good, maybe even better) but there is NO ONE who can be YOU to your child. If you want to be at home with your baby, and it is possible for your family, don’t be afraid to make the big transition because, “the days are long, but the years are SHORT.”

Remembering this always brings me back to a place of content with the decision we’ve made. Fortunately/strategically on my part, between this blog and my LipSense business, I’m finding ways to satisfy the creative, social AND entrepreneurial sides of myself WHILE getting to be at home with Taylor and focussing on my family.

The last few months have truly been the best of all worlds for me, and I would LOVE to chat with you if you have any specific questions about my journey or what I’m up to these days if I don’t answer them within this series(or heck, if you want to join my LipSense/SeneGence team even!).

If you haven’t yet read the first post in this series, How To Rock The Transition From Working Mom To Stay At Home Mom, I encourage you to go back and read that first. In it, I discussed my newly minted stay at home mom response to the question, “what do you do?” as far as work, and finding confidence in however you choose to live your own #momlife.

Working Mom to Stay At Home Mom Update #2

This brings me to another question (or variation of) I’ve been asked many times since becoming a stay at home mom is,

“So, what do you DO all day now?”

That’s actually a really good question, and one I felt super nervous about in the weeks leading up to the transition from working to stay/work at home mom. I was SO used to a jam-packed, tightly scheduled, daily routine that the thought of open-ended days gave me a ton of anxiety. Full disclosure, I remember crying the week before I was finished with work, for many reasons, but mostly because I just couldn’t picture what my new days and weeks would look like.

I wanted to do this stay at home mom thing well and didn’t want to lose myself in the day to day mom-ing/home-making or waste days sitting around watching cartoons with Taylor…. As it turns out, I have spent several days with Taylor sitting around doing mostly just that- and I’m totally okay with it. In fact, I’ll take those extra snuggles any day of the week.

Having a predictable schedule and routine is important for you/your sanity and your toddler. However, it is also important to be flexible and adjust according to your little one’s (or your!) needs on a given day. Moods happen. Things come up. Kiddos and mamas get sick. Naps are dropped. Structure without rigidity is key!

Structure without rigidity is the key!

Weekday Toddler Schedule and Stay At Home Mom Routine

That said, I wanted to share what a typical weekday for this stay at home mom and her 18-month-old toddler looks like. I work best when I time block (as you can see in my admittedly OCD Google Calendar below), and I hope it’s helpful to see what typically takes place during each block:

7 AM – Taylor wakes up and plays with her stuffed animals and reads books in her crib for 15-30 minutes while I “wake up”. One of the goals I have for myself is to start getting myself out of bed at 6AM in order to build in a little more me/work time before the day begins. I’m SOOOO not a morning person though, so we shall see how that goes….any tips?

Stay at home mom schedule and routine for a toddler

7:30 AM – AJ or I (my hubby works from home with is AMAZING) get Taylor out of her crib, change her diaper,  and bring her into our room to drink her bottle (yep, still drinking a bottle of milk in the AM + PM) while we watch the news/I get ready for the day. Most days I just put on some tinted moisturizer, my LipSense color o’ the day, curl my eyelashes and that’s about it. I can’t usually get Taylor downstairs without making a pit stop at the playroom, so we play there for 15-20 minutes before breakfast. Conveniently, the laundry room is connected to that room so I can start on or fold a load of laundry as she enjoys!

Stay at home mom schedule and routine for a toddler

8:30 AM – Taylor eats breakfast and I drink coffee and check emails. Her breakfast is anything from a banana + oatmeal, to a bagel, egg + raspberries. At this point, she is able to request her favorite foods which is so amazingly cool!

9:30-11:30 AM – Monday through Thursday (again, not EVERY Monday through Thursday because flexibility is key!) we go to Lifetime Athletic Club within this time block. Joining this gym is hands down the best decision we made as a family when I quit working and we moved to a new city. Their childcare facility, programming, and staff are absolutely phenomenal and Taylor LOVES going there. While she participates in toddler art or music class, I get to workout for an hour or so. This time is SO good for both of us; she gets to develop her independence and play skills while I get to maintain (maybe even increase!) my fitness and sanity, win-win! I always bring a snack for us to share outside the gym when we’re finished up. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that I often document our “conversations” during this time that has come to be a special tradition between she and I.

On Fridays during this time block, we go to the local library for a Mommy & Me developmental play hour which is super fun for Taylor, a little stressful for me (because she is literally the Energizer Bunny + Tazmanian Devil in this environment), and overall great for her development. Anything for T.

11:30 AM – When we get home from the gym, I make lunch for Taylor to eat before she goes down for her nap. Her lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, a toddler approved Green Smoothie, Annie’s Mac and Cheese (no shame in my game!), plus some fruit and water.

12-2 PM – Naptime, glorious, naptime. Although T’s naps have been hit or miss over the last few weeks, she typically naps for 2-3 hours a day. During this time I shower, work on blog-related stuff and/or my Lipsense/SeneGence business, start or finish a load of laundry, and (somedays) clean one room of the house. I create a prioritized “to do” list for each naptime block at the start of the week and get as far as I can through that day’s list, bumping unfinished business to the evening “Task” block or to the next day. Obviously, this system gets WAY backed up when Little Miss decides to boycott her nap/s, but I digress…

Stay at home mom schedule and routine for a toddler

2-4 PM – This is the time we either A) get outside of the house to play (if I have an errand to run that day, we’ll go on the way home), or B) play indoors and incorporate a learning/developmental activity. This may be a trip to the park or zoo, going outside in our backyard to play with her water table or playhouse, artwork or another craft in the kitchen (this art smock is a must, and under $5!), a make shift “fort” in the living room, or up to her playroom to “cook,” in her kitchen  or play with her toys and dress up clothes. 

Around 4:00 I offer T a snack whether we are at home or out and about. Her favorites these days are gummies, protein + fiber bars, and Goldfish.

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6-7 PM – I begin preparing dinner around 6:00. While I’m prepping for dinner AJ (the hubs), Curious George, Peppa Pig or Daniel Tiger babysit for Taylor, and we eat together around 6:30 PM.

7-8 PM – Almost every weeknight Taylor takes a bath, and then we go through her bedtime routine. Since I’ve been at home with Taylor, my hubby and I have been switching off every other night with who is “in charge” of the bedtime routine. On my nights off, l usually take a bath with my favorite bath bomb and enjoy some “me time.” This time is so critical, especially on the nights when I need to put in evening work to catch up on or create something for my businesses.

9-11 PM – This is the time where I (usually) try and get things I didn’t get done earlier in the day done. Although, many nights all I do is enjoy a glasses of wine (or 2 or 3) and a crime show with my hubby on our comfy couch. Those are the best weeknights of all : )

I would love to know what your stay at home mom routine  and toddler schedule looks like. I love getting ideas from other mamas like you! How is it different than ours? How is it the same?

XO,

Ashley

How to create a low stress daily routine for a stay at home mom and a toddler schedule

 

What To Pack For Travel And Vacation With A Toddler (and what you can expect!)

Be prepared for any trip with a toddler! Free Printable Packing List for Traveling with a Toddler (and a packing list for moms too!) + what to expect when taking a vacation with a toddler. This list is a must-have when you’re packing for a vacation with a toddler! CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE! Toddler packing list | new mom | first time mom | travel with a toddler

Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!

Now that you have a toddler, the word “vacation” has a whole new meaning. From keeping your little one entertained during car or airplane travel to packing ALL of their belongings into one suitcase, travel sure does become more tricky with a toddler in the mix.

Travel with a toddler doesn’t have to be stressful, but it does take a lot of thought and planning to make sure you get everything your family needs packed and stay (at least somewhat) organized once you arrive at your destination. Vacation is meant to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Of course, it won’t be the same care-free time as it was pre-baby, but it does not have to be stressful.  

We just survived got back from our first family vacation since Taylor officially entered Toddler-dom.  Although we took several trips with T when she was under 1 year, flying across the country and spending two weeks in several different locations with our Energizer Bunny was an entirely different ball game.

As usual, I spent a lot of time brainstorming beforehand and reflecting afterward on ways to make my/your #momlife easier and take some of that mental load off of you, mama (because I don’t know of many dads responsible for packing for both himself and the kiddos, am I right?).  

To that end, I want to share a few things you can expect when traveling/vacationing with a toddler, a total Mom Must Have for packing and keeping ALL the things organized, free printable packing lists for you +  your toddler, as well as a few family photos from our vacation.

This post is part of the Packed to Perfection Series. Each post (including one of my most popular – “What To Pack In A Carry-On To Entertain A Toddler On An Airplane”) includes tips for what to pack and printable checklists to make sure you don’t forget anything. It’s hard enough remembering what to pack for yourself, right?!  I like to print my checklists, laminate them and keep them in my bags/suitcases so that they are right on hand when it comes time to pack for a trip. I hope you find the vacation packing checklists for both Toddlers and Mamas from this post useful the next time you are getting ready to travel with your tot.

If you are traveling by plane, make sure you check out THIS POST and printable checklist to make sure you have everything you need to pack in a carry on bag to keep your toddler entertained during the flight! If you are going on a vacation where the pool or beach will be involved, make sure to check out THIS POST and printable checklist as well!

Without further ado…

Be prepared for any trip with a toddler! Free Printable Packing List for Traveling with a Toddler (and a packing list for moms too!) + what to expect when taking a vacation with a toddler. This list is a must-have when you’re packing for a vacation with a toddler! CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE! Toddler packing list | new mom | first time mom | travel with a toddler

4 Things You Can Expect On Vacation With A Toddler

  1. Sleep and nap schedules can and will go out the window… and your little one will be just fine.  Time change + jet lag (especially if you’ve made a long journey), excitement, new faces + environments, general overstimulation and even F.O.M.O. can all be cause for your little one to miss naps, stay up late, wake up earlier than normal, and just generally be off schedule. I learned that this isn’t the end of the world, and worrying about it only serves to increase your stress and decrease the vacation vibes.Your tot WILL get back on schedule when you get home and back to your regularly scheduled programming, I promise.
  2. Reframe your mindset from taking a “vacation” to taking a “trip”. A trip, which is what you’ll be on, is definitely a memory-filled experience, but it may not include laying out in the sun for 3 hour stretches with your beverage of choice, pausing to take and post one of those obnoxious bottom halves of your legs in the foreground + ocean in the background pics ( #guilty). If you are pining for the duty-free vacation days of old, you’ll feel disappointed and like you need a “vacation after the vacation,” so it’s best to get in the mindset of making it a memorable trip with the fam. Unless of course, you have # 3 going for you…
  3. Traveling with Grandparents, friends, and family can make “vacation” with a toddler feel like an actual vacation. If you can plan a trip with friends and family included, I would highly recommend it. It takes a village, right?  I cannot explain how wonderful it was to have my parents and some of our closest relatives around to A) spend time with, and B) help to entertain/care for Taylor. If it weren’t for the help of family, I know I wouldn’t have come home feeling as relaxed as I did. Taylor pretty much played with her cousins from sunup to sundown, which was so sweet to watch. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, AJ and I were even able to sneak away for a date night in Charleston while she enjoyed some special time with them. You could even plan a trip with other couples with little ones and trade off on nights in/date nights!
  4. Your tot is going to have a blast! No matter where you are, what you do,  or even what you forget to pack, YOU are providing an amazing experience for your little one that they are going to love. Enjoy every precious, energy-filled moment.

Pack For Vacation With A Toddler Made Easy!

The EZPacking cubes made packing for and then accessing ALL the toddler things upon arrival at your destination so, well, “EZ”! I purchased the Starter Set (one cube in each of the four sizes) a year ago, and was gifted another set for this trip – Thanks, EZPacking! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… I could go on about EZPacking all day long, but I’ll just give you the top 4 reasons why you MUST have these packing cubes for your next vacation (Plus, you get a 15% discount with code TAYLORMADEMAMA!):

Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!
EZPacking Starter Set in gray.
Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!
2 weeks worth of toddler gear -easily packed!
    1. Transparency. I love that the EZPacking cubes are clear. I can easily see the outfits, accessories, diaper cream, etc. that I am looking to find for myself or Taylor.
    2. If you are going to be traveling between several different places, the packing cubes make it so easy to get comfortable and organized quickly. Even if we’re only staying somewhere for a couple of nights, putting things away and getting my suitcase out of sight just makes me feel more relaxed and at home. Throw the cubes into the bedroom or bathroom drawers and you are all set; everything is still in the same place it was at your last stop.
    3. The cubes can be packed to utilize the entire height of the suitcase – so, no wasted space! 
    4. EZPacking cubes come in several different colors (black, green, pink, blue and gray – orange is currently sold out), which is perfect for mamas packing for more than one child and sharing a suitcase. You could even have older children pack their own color cubes. I used a black set for myself, and a gray one for Taylor:

Be prepared for any trip with a toddler! Free Printable Packing List for Traveling with a Toddler (and a packing list for moms too!) + what to expect when taking a vacation with a toddler. This list is a must-have when you’re packing for a vacation with a toddler! CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE!

  1. What To Pack For Vacation With A Toddler:Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!

    These are the vacation packing lists I use to pack for Taylor and I.  I tried to include all the essentials a toddler and their mama would need.  “Other” lines are under almost every category within the checklists so that you can add any additional, specific items you need to pack. Please let me know in the comments if there are any glaringly obvious things I left off! Click here or just click on the pictures below to access, download and print copies of the Mama and Toddler packing checklists:

    Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!

  2. Top tips for how to pack for travel and vacation with a toddler, without all the stress! Including a FREE printable packing checklist for toddler and mom!

    Our Vacation + Travel With Toddler Must Haves:

    • EZPacking Cubes – see above!
    • Travel Sized Downy Wrinkle Release Spray – I roll when I pack in EZPacking cubes because it saves more space, and this spray helps in a pinch when I don’t have access to or time for ironing!s
    • J by Jeep Umbrella Stroller – this lightweight stroller is super easy to travel with and handles surprisingly well, even on the cobblestone streets in Charleston!
    • Portable Crib – although we borrowed a crib from my cousin this trip, we typically travel with our Baby Bjorn portable crib unless we are staying at a hotel which guarantees access to a crib (just make sure to bring your own sheet!). 
    • Bags for your stroller and car seat if you’re traveling by plane.
    • Boxed organic milk – no refrigeration required. You can buy a 12 pack on Amazon and take a few with you for car or airplane travel when refrigeration isn’t convenient or possible.
    • Wet Dry bag – I pack all of Taylor’s suits and sandals in the wet dry bag, and then use it for pool/beach trips if we are going on that sort of vacation. I can’t get enough of these Skip Hop wet/dry bags.
    • Portable Snacks – Taylor’s fav snacks (that include protein) are these Sprout Power Pouches.

     

  3. I hope you find the things I did to plan for, used during and learned along the way on vacation with a toddler help make your next vacation an enjoyable experience for your whole family – including YOU! 

 EZPacking has kindly extended a discount for my readers.  Enter code: TAYLORMADEMAMA15  at checkout for a 15% discount!


  1. P.S. A few of our fav family vacation photos (July 2017)

    (Charlotte, North Carolina + Litchfield Beach and Charleston, South Carolina)

Be prepared for any trip with a toddler! Free Printable Packing List for Traveling with a Toddler (and a packing list for moms too!) + what to expect when taking a vacation with a toddler. This list is a must-have when you’re packing for a vacation with a toddler! CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE! Toddler packing list | new mom | first time mom | travel with a toddler

The Transition From Career Mom To Stay At Home Mom

How to rock the transition from working mom to stay at home mom.

Whether you carry the title of “Mom” exclusively (“stay at home mom”) or are a “working mom” outside or inside the home, it’s rare that anyone truly sees or gives you credit for ALL you do in your role as a mom.  

You don’t add “Mom” to your resume because the results you’re producing can’t be quantified, even though it’s the most important title you’ll ever hold.

You’re indispensable (the boss!) but there is no corresponding salary, nor performance bonuses to cash in on.

You’re really good at this motherhood thing; you are constantly honing your craft, but there isn’t a career ladder to climb or promotions to be given.

You punch in for this job, but you NEVER punch out…

So, especially as a stay at home mom, how do you respond when you’re asked the question,

“What do you do?”

Before I get into how I’ve been answering that question lately, let me first say that (45 days in) I do not have a single complaint about the stay at home mom life. It is a privilege and a blessing, and it is the life I chose. While there are certainly effects of this major change worth mentioning (and writing future posts on!): financial adjustments,  shifting responsibilities and dynamics in our marriage, acclimating to a new home and town, finding “me time” when I’m an introvert at home all day with two extroverts, etc., life is good. I go to bed each night excited that I get to spend the next day hanging out with my girl. I’m not missing anything. My husband is amazing, supportive and works incredibly hard and well to support our family. This lifestyle, this (at least mostly) undivided time…I’m living my dream and I’m so, so grateful.

Side Note: I  find the “stay at home mom” and “working/career mom” labels obnoxiously pigeonholing and misleading but I’m still going to use them here for sake of clarity; I think we can agree that ALL moms are full-time moms, and stay at home moms do a lot more than just stay at home.

We’re all just doing what we feel is best and what works for our families – and a darn good job at that!

From Career Mom To Stay At Home Mom – Update #1

Something I realized during the initial transition period from career to stay at home mom, and not something I’m super proud of admitting, is just how much of my identity is tied up in how other people perceive me based on what I did/do. 

I know a job title, salary or anything else external does not define my worth, but on more than one occasion I found myself responding almost apologetically to the question about what I do sayin something like, “I’m just a mom right now, but I used to…” I reference my previous occupation as if it increases my standing in the eyes of the person who asked; I add words as if they add value – as if being “Mom” is not enough. 

I don’t assess others (especially moms) in this way, I know that being a mom is one of the highest callings + most demanding jobs out there, and I was very confident in my decision to put my career on pause and be a stay at home mom, so my words and reaction came as a surprise. Maybe it’s that I felt competent in my profession, but I’m still getting my footing and confidence in this all day mom/homemaker thing.  Maybe it’s the subconscious influence of the society we live in, undervaluing what we do as moms and overvaluing productivity/money-making/achievements. Whatever it is, I felt the tug of my pride, and a wrong thinking showed itself in need of correction.

How to rock the transition from working mom to stay at home mom.

Confidence & Worth As A Stay At Home Mom

Fortunately, motherhood has a beautiful, humbling, refining quality when we reflect upon and act out of the experiences we have along our journeys; Oftentimes this brings a reminder of a simple, deep truth like it did in this instance for me – no matter what we do part time, full time, inside of the home or outside of it, we are defined by who we are.

Not by the title you have or someday wish to hold.

Not by what you do or don’t do.

Not by what you have or haven’t accomplished.

Not by accolades or criticisms from others, and certainly NOT by the amount of money you earn or don’t.

True worth has nothing to do with the external, and everything to do with the internal and unseen – the “who” you were created you to be, the person you are in this world. As moms, we ALL struggle with thoughts that we aren’t enough, that we aren’t contributing enough to our family financially or time wise, or that we’re just generally not doing things right.

Well, I’m here to tell and/or remind you that you alone are absolutely enough and that – as long as your kids are loved, safe and mostly happy -there is no wrong or right way to “mom”.  Feel good about doing what feels right to you and works for your family.

YOU are a gift to your family and this world and you should have every confidence in the person and Mom that you are. There is nothing else you need to prove to anybody.

As for me, I will continue to pour my talents, heart, soul, mind, and skills into my family and raising our precious daughter without the time + mental commitments to another job for this season of life. There will be times in the future when I use my gifts toward other ends and maybe even pick up where I left off with my career, but my current path is “stay at home mom” to Taylor.

That is enough.

I am more than enough.

My role as Mom is invaluable.

The same is true of you.

So, the next time I’m asked what I do, with shoulders square and the confidence and pride ALL mamas should have, I will simply say, “I have the privilege to be a Mom.”

When you’re asked, “what do you do?” how do you respond? Could you relate to any of the thoughts I shared in this post as a working mom or stay at home mom? I would absolutely love to hear from you. 

This is the first in a series of posts on the journey into SAHM life and this big transition for our family, so stay tuned + make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already.  Do you know a mama who could use this encouragement? Please share this with them! 

Update: Check out the next post/update in this series HERE!

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in reading:

How to rock the transition from working mom to stay at home mom.


How To Entertain A Toddler On A Plane – Travel Tips + A Free Printable Checklist

The thought of flying with a toddler with an attention span as short as they are cute for the first time (or anytime) can be downright intimidating. Taylor had flown with us before, but not since she became mobile and A LOT more active/aware.  In preparation for our family vacation to South Carolina, I spent a lot of time tapping the brains of all my been-there-done-that mama friends, “researching” on Pinterest, and brainstorming ideas to compile the perfect carry on bag to keep my toddler entertained and happy on a cross country flight.  Guess what? Our 4.5+ hour flight with a 15-month-old went off with far less stress than I envisioned – sans iPad/electronics or spending a ton of money – so I want to share what we packed, how we packed it and tips for a successful travel day with a toddler based on this experience.

Bonus – the in-flight kit I created has served as a both a car and restaurant entertainment kit while we’ve been on vacation as well! I hope you find this post useful when packing a carry on bag to keep your toddler AND you entertained and happy during your travels. If you have an infant, check out this post to see how we packed for one of Taylor’s first flights/vacations featuring our absolute, must have packing cubes by EZPacking.

If you’re packing for an upcoming vacation, you NEED to snag some of these.

Make sure to download and print the FREE printable checklist at the end of this post (or click the photo below)!

 

How to entertain a toddler on a plane flight

Let’s start with the bag:

I snagged this mesh tote at Target for $9.99 (!!!) and think it’s a perfect carry on because A) they have it in 8 colors, B) it’s durable but mesh, so you can easily see and grab for anything you might need in-flight, C) it can be used as a beach bag upon arrival if you’re taking a beach vacay, and D) did I mention it was only $9.99!?

What’s In The Bag (and how it all fit!):

 

  1. In-Flight Entertainment Kit – I included a section below with all the details on what’s inside this cosmetics case turned toddler entertainment kit. I use this same bag (in this floral pattern) for my Baby/Toddler Restaurant Kit as well because it’s a perfect size and has tons of storage space!
  2.  A lightweight swaddle blanket to put over your toddler if/when they nap. Airplane cabins can get chilly!
  3. Tote Savvy Mini Insert – Stocked with 4 diapers, pack of wipe, disposable diaper bags/dispenser, changing pad, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, wallet, keys, etc.  I pop this in and out of pretty much all my bags so that we always have the essentials on hand and organized. Check out this post for exactly what and how I’m packing my Tote Savvy for a toddler diaper bag these days.
  4. A zippered pouch (this one from Target is only $4.99) to carry a copy of your little one’s birth certificate (most airlines require proof that your toddler is under 2 years old to qualify as a “lap infant”) and headphones for if and when your toddler naps. I stored this pouch in the front pocket of the mesh tote bag for easy access during our travels. I love my beautiful rose-gold, wireless headphones from Sudio – you can snag a pair for 15% off here using the discount code TAYLORMADEMAMA.
  5. Puffs (AKA toddler crack).  I keep these on hand pretty much at all times. We only buy the Happy Baby organic brand.
  6. Empty water bottles for mama and tot  – Fill them up once you’ve cleared security. I store the water bottles in the outer pockets on either side of the tote bag.
  7. 1-2 tried and true favorite books and 1-2 new books having to do with their interests, airplane travel or their destination; I suggest Richard Scarry’s A Day At The Airport, and Amazing Planes.
  8. Spare outfits for you and your toddler.
  9. A novel toy set like this one with a wooden fire engine theme. Check Target’s Dollar Section – I swear, they have the most amazing toys/activities for travel purposes on the super cheap! After I already had everything together for this trip I found mini felt board sets which would be PERFECT for the kit! There is a set of 3 felt story boards on Amazon right now that I’m considering ordering to our beach house for the return flight (another Amazon Prime membership perk!). This magnetic block set would also be a great option.
  10. Packing tape to tape up a box for your car seat if you’re bringing it with you. We had a short wardrobe box as that was the only box that would fit the dimension of our beloved car seat (Maxi Cosi 70 Convertible – on sale for only $199 right now on Amazon!!). We also brought a roll of bubble wrap to line it with. You can also check it in one of these nifty car seat backpack style bags – either way, the goal is to prevent damage. We ended up making a game time decision to put our car seat in our travel stroller bag and forego the box altogether!
  11. An Etch a Sketch, MagnaDoodleor LCD drawing tablet.
  12. Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad (Adventure, Playhouse, Farm or Vehicles and Habitats)

Taylor’s Top Entertainment Pick…


Number 11!!!! Although she LOVES to color, I can’t freely give Taylor crayons or other drawing instruments because, at 15 months old, she cannot be trusted not to try them out for flavor… so, introducing this off-brand etch a sketch during the flight was a total win-win.  There are more expensive versions with lap pads and sound features that would be great for car travel, but this one fit the bill for function, size and the quiet factor. Taylor played with this for nearly an hour of the flight (cumulative), so I would say the $19 price tag was well worth it.  As I was writing this post I noticed that right now it’s on sale for Amazon Prime members for only $10.65! Don’t have a Prime Membership yet? Get a FREE 30 Day Trial here ( I PROMISE it’s worth it – most things on this list are Amazon Prime eligible!). There is also a cute set of two miniature drawing pads like this if you’re packing for more than one little. One of my besties recently showed me her kids’ LCD Writing Tablet like this one which is only $29.99 on Amazon.com for Prime members and an even better option than the traditional etch a sketch.

What’s In The In-Flight Entertainment Kit (# 1):

This cosmetics case is the PERFECT in-flight entertainment kit bag.

Left side = snacks, utensils, wipes, box of organic milk, bib, etc.

The Left Side:

When all else fails, snacks (and a big variety of them!) will be your tantrum tamers on a flight. In the left side of the in-flight kit I packed a ton of snacks I knew she would love: Annie’s organic gummy bunnies, fruit roll ups and cheddar bunnies, fruit + veggie pouches, a variety or bars, 2 milk boxes, a travel set of utensils (LOVE these by OXO!), a Green Sprouts wipe-off bib with a pouch (the best, and so easy to fold up!_, and individual hand and surface sanitizing wipes by Babyganics.

 

Right side = toys, art supplies, flashcards, etc.

The Right Side:

Basically, I raided our local party supply store and the Target dollar bins to stock up on a ton of fun little toys, stickers, flashcards and other packable items that I knew Taylor would be interested in. I brought them out one by one, or let her pick, whenever she began to lose interest.  I actually had WAY more than I needed, so I’m happy we’ll still have some novel entertainment for the return flight and/or restaurant trips on vacation! I’ve heard of parents also wrapping individual toys and letting their kiddo open them up one by one to add to the time/excitement.

A Speech Pathologists I worked with recommended these Busy Baby cards to work on language development. Taylor loves looking at the cute little images and hearing me talk about what she is seeing (i.e “this baby is holding a cat and wearing a hat!”). I definitely recommend any toddler mama to pick up a pack.

What I’ll Pack Next Time:

Although our trip went smoothly, of course,  I’m already thinking about how to make our mom lives even less stressful. Here are a couple things I didn’t bring with us this time, but likely will for the next trip based on our experience:

Snack and Play Travel Tray (top rated on Amazon.com) – good for plane, car or train travel!

A portable, foldable high chair like this one that I almost bought on Prime Day this year! It could easily fit in a carry-on. Fortunately, we were visiting family who let us borrow us their daughter’s old Pack and Play and high chair for this trip, but in the future, we will want to bring those ourselves. The portable crib we have, use and love is this one by Baby Bjorn.

Now, onto my top 10 tips for traveling & flying with a toddler…

Top Tips For Traveling/Flying With a Toddler:

  1. Check the TSA and your airline websites well in advance of your flight for their rules and regulations regarding travel with children under 2 years old.
  2. You can bring your own milk or juice in a cooler like this one,  but you may have to go through a full on TSA check. One option is to wait until you get through security and buy a milk box from Starbucks (these do not require refrigeration). Some airplanes will have milk depending on the airline and time of day, but if you care for it to be organic, you’re likely out of luck. I think the best option is to bring no refrigeration needed, easily portable milk boxes with you. When we arrived at our beach house, I ordered another 12 pack of organic whole milk boxes for the rest of our travel as we will not always have easy access to a fridge/milk.

3. Put your little one (if not already potty trained) in overnight diapers for the flight initially so that they don’t need to be changed as soon as they would in a regular diaper. Leaky diapers are fun for no one. Make sure they are in comfy clothes with shoes that are easy to slip on and off; we opted for Natives and they worked like a charm – definitely our new fav toddler shoe!

4. I know it isn’t always possible with logistics, but try to plan your flight time around your toddler’s nap if possible. We booked a SUPER early flight which was painful at 4:30 in the morning but worth it to coincide with Taylor’s daily nap. We enjoyed watching the movie Lion while she snoozed.

5. I know screen time isn’t for everyone, and to each their own, but if you allow it this suggestion is for you. Download shows from Netflix, Xfinity, etc.  and age appropriate apps onto your iPad or laptop. This will, hopefully, occupy your little one and buy you and your fellow passengers some quiet time. We had technical difficulties and weren’t able to utilize this option on this flight. Luckily, Taylor slept for nearly 2 hours of the flight but if she hadn’t we really would have missed out on having this entertainment option.

6. Bring empty water bottles in your carry on and fill them up at the airport once you’ve cleared security.

7. Invest in a  travel/umbrella stroller and umbrella stroller bag. Previously, we traveled with our  Baby Jogger City Select, but it was just too big and cumbersome with all the other luggage we needed to bring with us. This J by Jeep umbrella stroller is easy to fold open and closed and really compact. It also has a UV. You can check the stroller at the gate right before you board, but make sure to ask the desk attendant at your gate for a tag asap.

8. Walk the aisles if you sense that the native/s are getting restless and it is permitted by the captain. Generally, other passengers are going to want to see that cute little toddler’s happy face when they get to get up and move around the cabin. The walk will give them a chance to check out this new environment and distract them from being confined to a seat. If anyone has a problem with it (or your toddler crying for that matter) then that is their own issue – but truth be told, #momshaming can be real on flights!

9. Arrive to check in for your flight early, call ahead, or both to ask for an extra seat if possible. Generally, airlines will go ahead and reserve a seat when a “lap infant” is flagged on the manifest and keep it if the flight is not full. The extra seat makes diaper changes, and the whole flying experience, a lot easier! By the way, this article by USA today does a great job of breaking down how to deal with how to change a diaper during a  flight!

10. My last, but number one piece of advice would be to prepare and pack as well as you can beforehand, but then try your best to relax and go with the flow because, as we all know, toddlers certainly cannot be predicted!

I truly hope there is at least one piece you can use to make your #momlife less stressful when planning and packing for your next family vacation!

Now, click here or just click on the picture below to access, download and print a copy of the packing checklist:

Be sure to check out the other posts in my Packed to Perfection Series – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag to reference, and stop worrying about forgetting something every time you head out the door!

What other posts would you love to see in this series?


Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

How A Baby Changes Everything

This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Although they are little, babies sure can create BIG change in our lives.

From the day Taylor was born until today SO much has changed for us. If you follow us on Instagram you probably already know that we moved to our new home/city last weekend and that in about a month I will be leaving a 10+ year, successful career to stay home with Taylor. If interested, you can read more about that decision HERE. The reason for mass amounts of change in a relatively short timeframe? An itty, bitty newborn baby who has grown way too quickly into an {almost} full blown toddler.

Our move represents the incredible way that a baby can change your internal + external priorities and reality…

Before and even during pregnancy, I thought I wanted to be a working mom of 1 child only, and my hubby and I had our life planned accordingly. We certainly didn’t think that, within a year of T’s birth, that we would reorganize our financial and physical life in order to allow me to stay at home with her. Nor did we imagine we would search for a home that would be able to (hopefully, someday, no I’m not pregnant) accommodate another baby! But, as I am sure you have experienced in your own way, a baby can be quite the catalyst for change.

As we packed up the home we spent our first year as a family in I couldn’t stop thinking of all the memories we made in those rooms and how much growing we all did in different ways. However, I’m super excited for this new chapter in our lives. It will be one with undoubtedly less “me time,” but filled with so much more “us” time and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

Luckily, through all of the change, Carter’s has us covered.  Taylor has grown up in their zip-up playsuits (hello, easy diaper changes!) and I may or may not have spent WAY too much money during their Memorial Day sale on tons of the cutest swimsuits and outfits for Taylor’s summer.  Carter’s has compiled some of their most classic, tried & true styles (including the zip-up playsuits) to comprise the Little Baby Basics Collection.

Little Baby Basics baby clothes are sized newborn through 24 months. As your baby – and you –  go through all the changes (and growth spurts) involved in the first 1+ year of their life this is a line of baby boy clothes and baby girl clothes that you can count on for consistent quality, affordable prices, comfort and – very importantly – cuteness! I mean, look at the elephant detail…those pant ruffles… *sigh*

The Original Body Suits from the Little Baby Basics Collection, like the ones Taylor is shown wearing throughout this post, are must-haves in any baby wardrobe. They are sold (for incredibly reasonable prices) in packs of 5 coordinating patterns + designs which also makes them an adorable baby shower gift.

Carter’s has offered a generous coupon to my readers, available now through July 4th, 2017. With this coupon, you’ll receive 20% off their already great prices if you spend $40 or more, in store or online. Stock up for now, later or even a future baby shower gift:


Not sure where your local Carter’s store is? You can find the nearest store by clicking here.

Happy Shopping and remember to savor each and every moment with your little one/s – it flies by too quickly not to!

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

Like what you read in this post? Please share THIS LINK on Facebook, or PIN the image below:

Why I’m Leaving My Career To Be A Stay At Home Mom

Working Mom. Stay At Home Mom. Work At Home Mom.

An unfortunate truth is that, no matter what your decision or family circumstance in regards to work and motherhood, there will always be people who question, criticize or judge.

Since making the choice to put my career on pause to be at home with Taylor most everyone has been amazingly encouraging (i.e. the overwhelming, positive response on Instagram when I originally shared our news in this post). However, I have also had people ask directly – or behind my back – why I’m making the decision that I am, why I’m leaving what I’ve worked so hard to achieve over the last 10+ years…

Well, my answer is this: it feels right to my heart, I want to be the one to care for Taylor every day of the week, and it’s what is possible & best for our family. I know I will be the best version of myself as an individual, wife and mom because of this choice. Not to mention, I am also confident that my skills and drive will not simply vanish because I choose to stay home for a season of life.

Trust me, I can hold my ambition AND my baby. 

Not every mom feels like I do. Not every mom is wired the same. Not every mom has the same family circumstances and/or opportunities.

There are moms who absolutely love to work outside the home and would go crazy staying at home every day. They enjoy their work. They wouldn’t be the best version of themselves as an individual, wife and mom staying at home.  If that is you (I thought I would be you), be proud in your ability to balance work and home life in a way that feels good and right for you and your family; Although you may hear differently, there is nothing “wrong” or “selfish” with working outside the home because you want to. I know you know this, but you don’t love your career more than your child because you choose to work.

I know working moms who would love nothing more than to stay home with their babies, but are not able to do so. If that is you, please know that you are giving everything you can to contribute to raising and sustaining your family, and you are simply amazing. I feel your heart – being a working (outside the home) mom isn’t easy to begin with, but it’s downright hard when your heart wishes you were elsewhere. 

Work from home moms…I seriously don’t know how you do it. I can’t even get anything with this little side job blog of mine done from home now that Taylor’s down to one nap on my Friday off… If you’re pulling off the work at home mom life, my hat is off to you.

Then there are moms who have always envisioned being a mom and who couldn’t wait to quit their day job when they became one to stay home and raise their babies. In a world where so many moms do work outside the home by necessity or choice, you might feel like the minority (again, maybe that’s just the area where I live?). You may feel isolated, and even find yourself wondering if the 24/7 job you are doing is even noticed. Well, it is by those of us who “get it” and, most importantly, by your kids/family every day. Don’t ever feel less than because you are “just” a mom. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Finally, there are moms who make the difficult (and expensive) choice to leave successful careers to stay at home at some point in motherhood. Co-workers or others around you may not quite understand why you’re leaving the workforce to be “just” a mom. You’re letting down women who paved the way before you. You’re wasting your degrees.  Even some friends and family may question why you’d walk away from a job, salary and potential career opportunities you’ve worked hard to earn – and expensive mistake…Although I can only hope you have loved ones who are nothing but supportive.

Why I chose to put my career on hold to be a stay at home mom

I know that I am a very girl to have the choice to make between working and staying home with Taylor. Staying home is a luxury. I recognize that having a parent at home not every family’s reality, especially given the insane housing market (or is that just where I live?).  For me the decision to move toward Stay At Home Mom-dom was made after making the initial choice to return back to work after Taylor was born. I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I envisioned that as being my perfect reality of having “it all”. I did have my version of “it all,” but I couldn’t balance it. At least, not in a way that took away the ache or made me feel at peace in my heart.  Even working part time, and having my mom and husband watching Taylor in our home while I worked, the anticipation of needing to go back to full time eventually provoked an anxiety in me. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, but there it was.

Long story – full of prayer, worry, life changes, thought and decision making – short, my husband and I are now changing up our entire life to make this happen because it is what we want and what works best for our family.  Over time, my parenting and work life will both ebb and flow, but neither will end; For this season, I am afforded the precious, irretrievable gift of time with Taylor, and any other babes we may be blessed with. Work can wait.

Criticism about your choice to work, stay home or somewhere in between?

What I want to say to you – and myself – is this:  

If you decide to continue or start working outside of the home when you have kids, even if you don’t financially need to…

If you decide to leave a successful career to be a stay at home mom…

If all you’ve ever wanted to be in life is a mom, and now you are one, happily at home…

There will always be people (even friends and family) – for reasons of insecurity, jealousy, selfishness, ignorance, or boredom- who will criticize the decisions you make in your life. Trust me when I say that it will only serve to bring YOU down and/or drive you crazy if you let the opinions of others influence the way you feel or cause you to question what you know to be right. So, whatever your #momlife looks like, remember that only you and your family truly know what works, and believe that your mama heart is just a committed as the next. And, if you’ve made it to the end of this very long post – thank you : )

Have you ever felt judged for the decision you’ve made to either work or stay home? I’d love to hear about your experiences and answer any questions you have about my journey. 

If you related to this post, I would appreciate if you would share it on Facebook with THIS LINK!

P.S. If you are considering making the decision to leave a job you like/love to stay at home for a season like I was, I encourage you to be confident, brave and just take the plunge. Do I have worries and some anxiety about making the transition? Do I worry about how, when and if I’ll get back onto my career path some day? Sure. Although I know the transition won’t necessarily be completely smooth sailing, I can honestly say have not felt any regret and my heart is at ease. I hope the same for you!

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

Weaning After 1 Year of Breastfeeding – A Bittersweet Experience (Featuring Bun Maternity)

This post was sponsored by Bun Maternity, the most comfortable nursing apparel I own! All opinions (and emotions) in this post are 100% mine.

From the outset of this post I want to affirm that every mother has her own personal journey with feeding and then weaning her baby. I believe wholeheartedly that “fed is best” and that every mom should do what is best for she and her baby. We each “mom” our own way, and I’m just here to share mine.  

My experience with weaning after one year of breastfeeding:

Before having Taylor, and even while I was pregnant, I was actually kind of uncomfortable with the whole concept of breastfeeding. I saw posts of mothers nursing their babies on social media with hashtags like “#normalizebreastfeeding” and I couldn’t imagine that being me. I didn’t think I wanted that experience. I read about the health and bonding benefits and felt,  if it were possible for me to provide that for her, that I wanted to do so. Despite my discomfort and questioning on the outset, I made a commitment to breastfeed Taylor for as long as it was possible for me to do so, and for as long as she showed interest.

From the first moment she was laid on my chest, I understood that this is what I was made to do for her and all my previous discomfort (mental, not physical, because that i$h HURT the first 6 weeks!) melted away as a bond I can never put words to began.

Flash forward 354 days and our sacred, stressful, beautiful, and at times even painful journey with nursing has come to an end. To be honest, there is a sadness that’s come over me which started during the last couple weeks of our weaning process. I didn’t recognize the “down” feeling I had as being connected at first; For so long, I had been thinking of all the positives that would come along with being done with nursing (freedom!), but there it was. I didn’t understand how to go about the whole weaning process, so we kind of just started… Right away I saw that she was ready physically and emotionally and, even though I thought I would be, I wasn’t so much. From start to finish weaning lasted less than 3 weeks for us. I cradled her to me in the wee hours of our last morning and tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt her little body relax and flashes of the thousands of times I held, comforted and nourished her in this way passed through my mind.

Bittersweet. That’s the best word to summarize how I feel about the nursing chapter of my relationship with Taylor coming to a close. Bitter: a feeling of loss of something special between just she and I, and missing the baby that I can’t expect to stay small forever.  Sweet: a sense of freedom, pride in (barely) making it this far, and gaining back time in the day and my body as my own.

Taylor reaped benefits from nearly twelve months of breastfeeding but, unexpectedly, it was also the best thing for me.  My days at home and work were planned around when to nurse or pump. Although (very) frustrating at times, this broke my selfishness and gave me a sense of connection to her even when I was at work – both were things I needed. Although the emotional bond still remains, the end of breastfeeding is a loss of a connection between a mother and child that will never be there again. That’s hard to let go of, and just another sign that my baby is growing up right before my eyes. However, I know that just because she needs me less physically, does not mean she needs less of me. Even though I now have my body back to myself, I will still be 100% there for her in whatever ways she needs me now.

Bun Maternity – Perfect Apparel for Breastfeeding & Beyond

Mirroring the bond that carries over from breastfeeding to independence, the clothing I have from Bun Maternity are also pieces I can continue to wear beyond my breastfeeding days. Bun Maternity has the most stylish, comfortable and convenient, nursing friendly  apparel I’ve come across. I only wish I had known about this clothing line sooner. I’m sure I’ll be stocking up when (if we are so lucky) Taylor gets a sibling… Bun Maternity is affordable anyway, but they also offer FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more, and right now you can save 15% on orders over $50 using code SWEET15.

The design and versatility of these ponchos, hoodies, wraps, tees and tanks make it really easy to incorporate breastfeeding easily at any time. No one would guess that these are nursing tops. Plus, they are super comfy and soft, which are musts for me. The three pieces I own are fantastic for times when we’re on the go and I’ve needed to discreetly nurse in public – shopping, going out to eat, rushing back from the gym to a hungry baby, etc. 

So Soft Breezy Nursing Hoodie (Navy) – Even though I’m now done with nursing, I will continue to wear this breathable, light-weight hoodie for casual errand running and trips to the gym.

High Low Swing Tank (Kale) – This top comes in several colors, but I couldn’t resist the green/kale. The material is very soft and it looks just like a regular tank but with “secret” side panel access for baby; the ideal tank for a busy day of shopping:

Cozy Nursing Hoodie (Black) – Seriously the most comfortable hoodie I own. If you’re in the market for nursing apparel, definitely snag this one! It is perfect for discreet nursing and the shoulder snap is actually hidden by the hood – you would never guess it’s meant for breastfeeding. I’m definitely continuing to wear this staple beyond breastfeeding. Am I the only one that will wear the same, fav sweatshirt every night for like, a week straight? I may or may not be wearing it right now as I edit this post….

For reference, I am 5’ 10” and wear a size Medium in Bun Maternity apparel.

Check out the entire nursing friendly line at www.bunmaternity.com.

If you were a nursing mom, I wonder if you can relate to the thoughts and emotions I sorted through during weaning. How did you feel when you were done with breastfeeding? If you’re still nursing, do you have a plan for when and how you’ll wean? I’d love to hear about your own experience in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading. 

P.S. If you’re still nursing, make sure to check out all my posts on breastfeeding & pumping.

Tips To Make Dining Out With A Baby Less Stressful

10 tips for how to make going out to eat with a baby less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family. Create a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies. Keep it in the car, and you'll always be prepared! You'll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers.

One of the things that my husband and I loved to do pre-baby was going out to eat. During the dating phase of our relationship he lived in San Francisco, right in the heart of the Marina District, and I in downtown Sacramento. Both cities have great dining scenes (obviously San Francisco more so) and each weekend we would eat on the town at least once. After coming out of the newborn haze, I wanted to continue that tradition and bring Taylor out to eat with us but was honestly too intimidated to do so. During that time, people advised that we should take her out to eat while she still “slept all the time”; looking back we really should have taken advantage of that time because now I know that it becomes a whole lot more complicated when they are awake and needing to be entertained constantly…

Entertain me please.

Taylor is 10 months old now, and we’ve been out to eat with her about once per month for the last 6 months. Through trial and error and some “interesting” experiences at restaurants, we’ve learned a few tips and picked up items that make going out to eat a lot less stressful/messy and more enjoyable for mommy, daddy and baby.

Most recently Taylor attended a dinner put on by the law firm my employer contracts with and,although it didn’t go perfectly (i.e. I had to take her out to the car in the middle of the meal to nurse because she lost it a little bit as it got closer to bedtime), the tips and tricks I’m sharing today made it possible for me to feel confident bringing her to such a setting. We love getting out of the house on weekends with Taylor now, and she is used to being out and about which I think is good for her. I hope you find the following tips for dining out with a baby helpful for your family. I’ve also included suggestions to add to your Restaurant Kit for older babies and toddlers (see #8!):

10 Tips To Make Eating At A Restaurant With A Baby Less Stressful

1.Dine early -We try to get the the restaurant around 5:30PM. Beat the crowd and have plenty of time before bedtime/witching hour? Win, win!

2. Pick a noisy restaurant – Babies cannot be expected to sit quietly for an hour or more (if you have one that does so without any effort of your own, consider yourself super blessed!). They WILL fuss, cry, screech, chat, and growl (or perhaps that’s just my child). It makes things a lot less stressful when you know your little noise maker will blend into the rest of the background noise.

3. Ask for a table for four – This way your babe has their own space and you can clear the area of all the things their little hands would want to grab. We learned our lesson during this particular trip out for Phö. We had a tiny table for two and spent most of the time trying to block Taylor from grabbing chili sauce, our napkins, spoons, bowls, etc.

As you can see, there was far too little room for error.

4. Buy this chair by Inglesina, and the tray that goes with it!- I can’t recommend this chair/tray combo enough and only wish we’d purchased it sooner. Taylor will NOT sit still in a highchair and one of us inevitably ends up with her on our lap, trying to keep her little mitts off our plates, for the majority of the meal. This chair, however, she loves sitting in and it does fit on most restaurant tables we’ve been to. Another really nice feature of this comfy chair is the pocket in the back where supplies like sanitizing wipes, a toy, spoons, bibs, etc.can be stored. I keep this seat in the car in it’s attached, travel-friendly carrying bag so that we don’t have to worry about forgetting it. The tray fits into the bag as well.

Happy baby in her own space at the table.

5. Have a Ziplock bag stashed with the following in the car or easy to grab on the way out the door.

Some of the essentials to make dining with a baby easier.
Having the essentials on hand is key!
    • Spoon – One of my best girlfriends recommended these recyclable, reusable or disposable baby spoons that are only $5.49 for a pack of  24 on Amazon. If you leave one on the table, it’s not too big a deal.
    • Bib – These Burpy Bibs by Aidan and Anais are by far my favorite, portable bibs (they cover a lot of surface area!)
    • Spill Proof Sippy Cup – keep it empty in your kit and fill it up once you arrive.

  • Wipes – Use natural hand, face and baby wipes to wipe down the table surface where your baby will touch/eat snacks from, and their hands/mouth after the meal. We use these by Babyganics:
  • Snacks (2 different kinds) – T’s top three favorite baby cracks snacks are Happy Baby Puffs, Yogis and Munchies (these are like healthy Cheetos for babes!). I order these three monthly on Amazon (if you don’t already have Amazon Prime – free 2-day shipping amongst other perks – it’s so worth signing up for an account HERE).
  • Pouches – just in case you forget to grab their food from the fridge or cupboard on the way out, you’ll have a portable dinner on hand. Our favorite pouches are made by Sprout, in this flavor, which you can purchase in a pack of 5 on Amazon.


6. Buy a mini cooler for homemade baby food that needs to be refrigerated, or just grab your jar/Tupperware of food if you’re heading straight to the restaurant. I use this one that’s actually meant to store breast milk, but fits and my homemade baby food jars perfectly as well.


7. Feed the baby directly after you order your food, so that by the time your meal arrives you’re able to actually eat it. If you have an older or baby-led weaning baby – order food for them as soon as you sit down!

8. Bring along a novel “toy” or an activity for older babies/toddlers– this could be something as simple as a straw from the restaurant. While you’re scarfing down your food as quickly as possible eating, baby can play with this novel item and/or eat some of their small snacks. Taylor LOVES plastic chopsticks – she’s quite the musician with those things! If you have an older baby or toddler who can complete activities like reusable sticker books, reusable activity books with water pens, coloring books (Twistable, self-sharpening crayons are awesome for this!), etc.

I would suggest upgrading from a Ziplock to a makeup/toiletry carrying case like one of the ones below to store all of your feeding and entertaining essentials. I got this fabulous idea from Blue i Style blog which has all sorts of amazing DIY organization tips. You can keep this Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to eliminate the stress of dining out with babes in your car.  I purchased this floral cosmetic bag at Target, and linked two other patterns of the same bag below:


9. Don’t forget to make and bring along your Baby Car Kit in the case of a massive post-dinner poop – Trust me, you will never regret having everything you need on hand. Find out the essentials I pack in mine by reading this post.

10. Queue up an educational You Tube video  on your iPhone – Okay, please don’t judge me, but after going through the bag of trick above I will let Taylor watch one particular video called “ABC’s” by ABC Kids TV. We reserve letting her do this as a last resort, but she absolutely LOVES that darn video and it’s honestly really nice to have her occupied while her dad and I get a few minutes to enjoy our meal and a bit of adult conversation.

There you have it! My top tips, tricks, and preparation to make the experience of dining out with a baby as stress-free as possible. Now, go make your kit and get out on the town!

What tips and tricks do you use to keep your baby, toddler or kiddo entertained when you go out to eat? I would love if you’d share those ideas with me in the comments.

xo, Ashley (1)
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This is a post from my Packed to Perfection series. Be sure to check back for other posts in the Packed to Perfection Series as they are posted – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag, and never worry about forgetting something again! You can see other examples of ways to organize and pack for a baby or toddler in these existing posts: Diaper Bag for Baby, Packing Cubes, Working Mom’s Pumping Bag, Infant Daycare Bag, Baby/Toddler Car Kit, and Restaurant Kit for Babies/Toddlers.

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

10 tips for how to make going out to eat with a baby less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family. Create a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies. Keep it in the car, and you'll always be prepared! You'll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers.